Consumer Alert: Shattered trust

Consumer Alert: Shattered trust

Do you trust your accountant? This story may have you considering that question.

Officials say a certified public accountant convinced many of his clients, friends and family to invest money with him in order to profit on real estate investments. Since many of them had trusted him for years, they did, and they lost. A reporter has more on a scam that cost victims their life savings.

"Because I trusted this family friend, I invested with Dan Wise," said fraud victim Dr. Robin Schupp.

Schupp says Wise was intelligent and attentive, which is why she trusted him with her money.

"You can take your money out anytime you want, you always will have access to your money - your funds are fluid," said Schupp.

Wise promised investors a 12 percent growth on their money, and Schupp says she received many statements proving the growth.

"I took him for his word, which was a mistake obviously," Schupp continued.

It turns out it was all a lie. Wise was running a Ponzi scheme.

"He gets individuals to invest in his business, and usually taking money for himself, spending it on himself and then paying the earlier investors with the later investors' money," said Miranda Garcia, a U.S. Postal Inspector.

200 victims lost more than $67 million to Wise.

"Most of his victims were already clients. He had established the relationship of trust, so I don't think getting them to invest was all that difficult," said Garcia.

Postal inspectors say Wise ran a legitimate accounting business for years, so why did he start the scheme?

"I think like most people who run a Ponzi scheme, it's just greed. They are educated and they are well-spoken and I think that just lends to the fact that they have access not only to a lot of people's financials, but their trust as well," Garcia continued.

Which is why research is key, no matter who advises you.

"Even though the source may come as trusted, we still encourage individuals to do their research to get the background information on a company," said Garcia.

"I still don't know that I could have identified it as a Ponzi scheme because there was paperwork and it looked, everything was looking so much like a statement that you get from your bank," said Schupp.

Schupp lost more than $1 million in savings. She has learned a lesson, but also tries to keep a positive perspective.

"Being burned made me more careful, well yes, sure. But I don't think that he represents the majority of people in this world," Schupp continued.

Wise was sentenced to 35 years in jail and has been ordered to pay more than $67 million in restitution to his clients.

Copyright 2017 Litton's Consumer Alert via WBRC. All rights reserved.